This weekend, people from around the state of Wyoming gathered in Cheyenne for the annual Right To Life events. Friday night, a small group for fourty or so gathered at the Cathedral for an hour of Adoration. The reading selected came from Sirach, Chapter 6, speaking of Wisdom. This is indeed one of the great needs in our efforts to recognize the dignity and sanctity of all human life, born and unborn.
Saturday, the Cathedral was full for a 9:00 Mass celebrating the Gift of Human Life and preparing for the events of the day. Approximately 450 people gathered at the depot to march to the State House in silent support of the unborn. The day concluded with a dinner banquet at Little America, hosted by the Laramie County Right To Life group.
In These days, weeks and this month, we are called to be mindful of the world around us. We are invited to hear how our life is a gift from God, each embraced intimately in the person of Jesus, called to witness to our faith creating a culture of encounter that recognizes and serves Christ in others.
Yesterday, we began a Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Today is marked as the World Day for Migrants and Refugees. The month of January is poverty awareness month. And, this Wednesday is 41st anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, a landmark decision of the Supreme Court making abortion legal in this country.
Let’s take a look at the impact of that decision:
3,500 abortions are conducted in this country every day. Every day 3,500 unborn children are dismembered in the womb – their lives and bodies destroyed – innocent defenseless lives murdered. 1.2 million every year – 56 million lives taken in the last 41 years.
1 of 3 women have had abortions.
One other statistic – which is perhaps the most disturbing – not substantiated or verified, but disturbing none-the-less is this; 72% of abortions conducted at planned parenthood clinics come from Christian churches. In other words, the vast majority of abortions are provided to women who claim to be Christian.
People, we must wake up to the horror and sin of abortion.
At the same time, we must not allow these young women who have an unplanned pregnancy move to the choice of an unwanted pregnancy. They are scared and need our help and support. We must help them in this great time of need. They must know they can come to us and find love and support. They must know that we will help them come to accept this child as a gift, and not see the child as a burden or problem. They must know that we will help them bring this child into the world, and if necessary, we will take that child and find it a loving home where it can know the love of a mother and father.
We also have a commitment to help women who have had an abortion come to know our forgiveness – and help them to find a way to forgive themselves. We must help these women who have chosen abortions to come to know that they are still beloved children of God, and embraced as members of God’s family.
How do we allow our faith to disturb our conscience? How do we allow our faith to make us aware of the presence of Christ around us? How do we allow our faith to define us?
The readings today teach us once again about our fundamental origins in God. Hear the words of the Prophet Isaiah (49): Hear them as spoken to you – personally:
“The Lord said to me: You are my servant…through whom I show my glory. The Lord has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb…
My God is now my strength!
I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation my reach to the ends of the earth.”
Hear the Psalmist: (40)
“Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.”
Hear St .Paul: (1 Corinthians 1:1-3)
“Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ,
By the will of God
Writing to the Church … to us … to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy … with all those everywhere who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is the first order of business for us today, to be profoundly aware and consciously stirred with the truth and knowledge that God has formed us in the womb…to be his servants…to be holy…to call upon the name of Jesus Christ…to be a light to the nations…for his will and purpose. Does this describe us? Does this define me? Is this what gives guidance to each of my days? Because when this truth truly breaks upon me and breaks upon each of us, then our entire being, our entire life, is dedicated to God.
Finally, I was struck by the words of John the Baptist in today’s Gospel. John was given the grace to recognize Jesus as the Lamb of God – as the One who takes away the sins of the world. But listen also to part of his testimony in this regard: “I did not know him … I did not know him.” This is the one who in the womb was inspired by the Spirit to recognize the approach of Jesus, also still in the womb, as Mary came to visit Elizabeth. This ‘not knowing Jesus testimony’ is from John, who was a cousin to Jesus … a member of his family.
John came to know Jesus as the Lamb of God, as the Son of God, as the promised Messiah when the Spirit descended upon Him during His baptism in the Jordan. We, too, must come to know Jesus with absolute certainty as the Lamb of God, as the Son of God, as the One who sanctifies us and heals us of our sins, who calls us and sends us in His name to be salt and light to the world.
When we truly come to know Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, then our lives have meaning and purpose, because we are following the One who is the Life and Light of the human race. When our lives are place fully and squarely at the feet and service of Christ, then we can accomplish all things. When we take a stand in the world for justice and peace, when we stand up for the innocent life of the unborn, when we speak on behalf of migrants and refugees, when we work to eliminate poverty and feed the hungry, when we live in the world as witnesses to Christ, we are not just social activists, we are missionary disciples. When we are live as missionary disciples, when we live the life that is ours as one baptized, called, formed and sent into the world by Christ, then it is the power of His Word and the grace of His presence within us that will win our cause.
Here again today, right here in this very place, during this Mass, we live as the apostles, as ones who hear Christ speak in the Word of God, who see and touch Christ present in this Eucharist, and thus we can live in the world and proclaim to others, as John the Baptist, what we have seen and heard and touched. We can proclaim as St. Peter: “Lord, we have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God.”
As our faith comes to maturity, and through faith we are led to deeper and deeper conversion, we will live in the world as witnesses to Christ, capable of hearing Him, seeing Him, touching Him, loving and serving Him – in the poor, in the unborn, in the migrant and refugee, in all peoples of all faiths.
Please God, may it be so!0